Well this is it, the final week of the NFL regular season and possible the best single day of action of the entire year.
Some of these games have plenty on the line, others will have the intensity of light practices in 40 degree weather but by the end of the day Monday, we’ll know just who is in the playoffs.
The day starts off slowly but gets busier and busier before finishing off with the NFC West title decider between the Seahawks and Saints at what is sure to be a raucous Century Link Field.
Check out our previews and predictions for every game this weekend, yes even the Jaguars-Colts game will get a (very brief) mention.
The only reason the Bills are at such long odds is because there’s a chance they may rest some players with a guaranteed game on Wild Card Weekend. I still like them to get by the Jets here as they try and find a balance between momentum and keeping players fresh.
New Orleans would love to rest some of their big name players in this one but they’ll have to go all out to try and give themselves the biggest possibility of getting a first round bye and maybe even home field advantage. Even with the Panthers recent struggles defensively, the Saints are the side the will get up to play and I like the Saints in a tough, low scoring slugfest.
Much like the Saints, New England can’t afford to take it easy in this game, the Dolphins have been a tough out for pretty much every opponent lately and Brian Flores would surely love to screw up his former mentor’s playoff bye chances. I’m still going to back Brady and company to score enough to get by but a 15.5 point line is way too high for my tastes, especially since I doubt the Pats offence has more than 20 points in them.
Unless the Dolphins to them a favour, the Chiefs are going to be playing on Wild Card Weekend so Andy Reid could pull his starters if the New England game gets out of hand. Of course with how well his team is going that might just mean they beat the Chargers by a bit less than what we thought they might.
It’s a shame that this will be our last chance to punt on the Buccaneers this season, it’s been a lot of fun riding the Jameis Winston rollercoaster, although Bruce Arians would probably disagree. Atlanta has found an extra gear in the last few weeks as well so I think we could be in for one of those wild shootouts when both teams have nothing really to lose from going all out here.
At this point there’s only really one strategy to take with the Browns and that’s to hope for some proper chaos. Losing to the confirmed worst team in the league Cincinnati seems like the perfect way to cap what has been a wild season. Although a loss may end the reign of Freddie Kittens (yes I know it’s Kitchens) which might make 2020 a lot less fun.
The Vikings are going to be the NFC’s sixth seed and the Bears are… well not in a good way at the moment. I’m not all that keen to find a bet on what is essentially a dead rubber.
The Packers are another side that has to come out and win to ensure they keep a hold on that second seed. Detroit’s players will be gearing up to fly out on holidays by this stage as they already will have an eye on 2020 and their draft position.
Houston has followed a weird pattern this season, lose one, win two and repeat all season. Back to back wins over Tennessee and Tampa Bay has given them the AFC South title and unless Kansas City manages to pull off an all time choke, they’re locked into the fourth seed. While Bill O’Brien has said he will start his important players, don’t be surprised if the early window changes that plan. That’s good news for the Titans who need to win to get in and with the likely return of Derrick Henry, you have to like those chances.
As much fun as it will be to see RG3 starting an NFL game again, the Steelers backup quarterbacks have been horrendous enough to make me want to wish this was Madden and sim right through it.
The only team with a vested interest in this game should be the Raiders, who need a Colts win as one of five results to get them into the playoffs. I’m not expecting an offensive masterclass in this one so I’ll back the under.
Much like the Browns, it’s always better to hope for chaos with the Cowboys. Would it be at all surprising for the Eagles to lose to the Giants and for Dallas to lose to Washington here? There’s just too much history of the Cowboys and Week 17 disappointments to not back, especially with Dwayne Haskins sitting out.
How can we not back the second half of the NFC chaos scenario here? The Eagles welcome back Jordan Howard but Carson Wentz just looks like a deer in the headlights as opposing pass rushers continually have free lanes to hit him. Even the Giants pass rush should be able to register a few sacks.
The Raiders fairytale is going to come to a frustrating end here, Denver has looked really good offensively with Drew Lock at the helm. I think the rookie is going to have plenty of opportunities to light up the Raiders secondary. That points total of 41 seems way too low and I’m looking forward to jumping on it early.
The Rams are out of the playoffs, Kyler Murray is injured, we hope this isn’t the last we see of Larry Fitzgerald and I’m not interested in betting on this game.
This is the game to look forward to on Monday, the NFC West and possibly home field advantage on the line. Seattle hasn’t been as strong at home as in previous years but in a spot like this, I can’t imagine them having a letdown here, even if they have to drag Al Michaels out of the commentary booth to play running back for them. This has the makings of another shootout that will be decided by which quarterback can avoid a crucial turnover and as good as Jimmy Garoppolo has been this season, those interceptions have come at really bad times.